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Liver Disease

liver disease     

Liver disease and infections are caused by a variety of conditions including viral infections, bacterial invasion, and chemical or physical changes within the body. 

Some conditions that affect the liver are : 

  • Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver
  • Inflammation from infectious (hepatitis Bhepatitis C) or non-infectious causes (chemical or autoimmune hepatitis)
  • Tumors, benign and malignant (liver cancer)
  • Metabolic disorder

Learn about the causes, treatments and prevention. 

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The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. Its main functions are to:

  • metabolize nutrients that are absorbed by the intestine
  • store nutrients
  • produce proteins
  • detoxify blood by removing medications, alcohol, and potentially harmful chemicals from the bloodstream and treating them chemically so they can be excreted by digestive or urinary systems

Liver disease and infections are caused by a variety of conditions including viral infections, bacterial invasion, and chemical or physical changes within the body.

 

Symptoms of liver disease may be acute, occurring suddenly, or chronic, developing slowly over a long period of time and can range from mild to severe depending on the type of disease present.

 

Liver disease can be caused by a variety of factors. Causes include:

  • Congenital birth defects, or abnormalities of the liver present at birth
  • Metabolic disorders, or defects in basic body processes
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Alcohol or poisoning by toxins
  • Certain medications that are toxic to the liver
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Trauma or injury
 

A healthcare professional can determine whether a person's symptoms, medical history, and physical exam are consistent with liver disease.

 

Treatment will depend on the type and the extent of the disease.

 

Some, but not all, liver diseases can be prevented. For example, hepatitis A and hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccines. 


Other ways to decrease the risk of infectious liver disease include: 

  • Practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands well after using the restroom or changing diapers
  • Drink bottled or chlorinated water when traveling internationally
  • Avoiding sharing injection equipment
  • Practicing safe sex.
  • Avoiding the sharing of personal hygiene items, such as razors or nail clippers
  • Avoiding toxic substances and excess alcohol consumption
  • Using medications only as directed
  • Using caution around industrial chemicals
  • Eating a well balanced diet following the food guide pyramid
  • Getting an injection of immune globulin after exposure to hepatitis A
  • Using recommended safety precautions in healthcare and day care work
 

Last Updated: March 15, 2012

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